tv Your Business MSNBC September 14, 2013 5:30am-6:00am EDT
they're called preppers. ready for any type much disaster. how entrepreneur rs marketing to them. >> she had a great business plan for a new shoe company until someone ripped off the idea. protecting yourself coming up next on "your business." small businesses are revitalizing the economy and american express open is here to
help. that's why we're proud to present "your business" on msnbc. > . hi there everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg. welcome to "your business," the show dedicated to giving you tips and advice to help your small business grow. business psychologists will tell you that consumer purchases are generally based not on pragmatism but on emotion. and that's why a growing number of entrepreneurs are marketing to a phenomenon of our times. those who fear the unknown and want to be prepared in the event much a disaster or domestic terrorism. wee found one small business that serves the prepper movement and practice what is they preach.
>> so important for people to prepare and to protect their family from what's coming. and for me, it's not if. it's when. >> i'm proud to be a prepper. i think most people are preppers. >> while they proudly call themselves survivalists or preppers, darren and dave, the owner and manager of california-based off the grid survival supply store, also call themselves entrepreneurs. >> we carry the products that you may need in an emergency to take care of your family. >> that's one million volts. okay? now volts won't kill you. all right? but what's going to happen, every muscle in your body when you get hit by this is going to -- and then you will go over. >> if you have to start with empty plastic bottles, get the ball rolling. know that you have a supply of water that you can go to. because, again, three days without water and you are dead. >> here's the question.
how much water do you have saved up? because you think you're good. >> we usually keep like three cases of the gallon waters. which is probably like 12 gallons at the most. >> that's terrible, guys. that's terrible. >> fear is a very immediate motivat motivator. i think it's an especially powerful tool in marketing for good and for bad. >> adam is a professor of marketing at the nyu sterns school of business. he says entrepreneurs like darrin and dave use fear in a direct way to market their products. >> what i would like you to do is make a plan and work your plan. >> one of the big keys is if people are feeling fear tull, you give them a tool or tools to deal with that fear. you give them a sense of control. >> equated back to insurance. our demographic is people who want to be able to be comfortable and survive if there's an emergency. >> they actually manage the fear, overcome it. even though the chance of something bad happening is small, we want to know it's
something we don't have to worry about. >> fear is a very strange emotion. it's beneficial but also very destructive at the same time. >> like many preppers, dave, the store manager, lives on a compound at this remote location. he keeps his family and emergency supplies secured behind this steel fence. >> let's say it's a terrorist attack or major earthquake or crash of the dollar. when that takes place, i highly suggest somebody has -- you have weapons to protect you and your family. because those people that come to take, they're not going to be asking nicely. >> when that moment of crisis arrives, dave feels he's going to be well-prepared. he's got a solar heated stove, water supplies, independent energy sources, a defensive lookout tower and a pantry stocked to the ceiling with food, medicine and weapons. darren told us one of his most important marketing lessons came from listening to one of his customers. a prepper who came in right
after the store opened. he was stationed at a nearby military base and a small comment made a big impression on darren. >> he goes. cool store. i wouldn't buy anything here. i said, well, why is that? he said because this is all survival kits. where is the mini survival wallet with the file if i need to file to get out of a tie handcuff if i'm being kidnapped. where is the mres. where is the knives. >> right away darren expanded his selection and sales took off. his customers didn't need to be lured into the store. when they arrived, many walked past the front counter to get advice from other customers in the back. one was a dedicated prepper who knew a lot about the gear and the politics. that was dave. >> what i would say to him is you know what, please get your head out of the ground, open your eyes, look at what's going on around you. >> dave actually came to me and said, hey, i just want to hang out in your store.
i want to talk to other people and i want to share ideas and learn what they're doing. >> that's when darren decided to hire dave to man the front counter. >> my only complaint with dave is, he's so good at talking, sometimes he's not selling. but the great thing is most people don't make their major purchase on their first visit. they want to go home and study it and make sure they're getting the right things. >> you want to look for the fit between the salesperson and what they're selling. if you're a prepper or survivalist and interested in selling to others, at that point they're certainly concerned about the situation at hand. they're already engaged. >> adam says industries that market products to answer people's fears, whether health fitness insurance or something else, all walk a very fine line. >> you can overload people and overwhelm them with fear. not enough fear doesn't motivate people. what you find at the sweet spot, the moderate level of fear and
you give them a sense of control so they can at least mitigate the fear. >> if something happens, god forbid, i would want to be prepared for that. >> this company is clearly tapping into people's emotions. so what can we learn from what they did that can be helpful to your company? two great guests, marketing expert and change agent james has let and larry wing et calls himself the pit bull of personal development. he's also a best selling author and his latest book is called "grow a pair," how to take back your life, business and sanity. nice name. >> thanks. >> that is a memorable name for a marketer. great to see both of you guys. >> it's always great to be here. >> yeah. >> what i was thinking as i was watching this, a bunch of things about why they're successful. one was something someone told me this weekend, which was tell,
don't sell. these people clearly walk the walk. they're experts. got the expert to talk to the customers. the customer who was an expert. that is the best marketing you can do, right, jeffrey? >> always about being the promise you want to deliver. does fear work? absolutely. every emotion works. it's just you want your brand associated with that. certainly, there are companies, remember the y 2 k scare when we got prepared and people used that and nothing happened. you know, the key thing for you do you want fear associated with your brain. is it part of your message? does it relate back to what you do? let's use lister minute or listerine. you can tell what i use. they use fear of cavities, halitosis and all the things to be able to make sure you have good breath. there's lots of different ways to be able to use fear. >> that's so interesting. larry, i was about to say the same thing. fear is not necessarily fear of a terrible disaster, but it could be fear of i'm not
dressing correctly for work. is fear a good way to look at this in the same way as looking what problem am i solving? >> you know, we need to understand what we heard growing up about love makes the world go around is an outright lie. fear makes the world go around. everything we do is because of fear. never kid yourself about that. it absolutely works. turn over to the religious channels. we're not selling heaven. we're selling fear of hell. we don't sell watches to be on time. we sell watches so you won't be late. we buy deodorant because we're afraid of smelling bad and people won't like us. everything we do is based on fear. people buy from me. not because they're hopeful to find out how to be successful. it's because they're afraid to be a failure. you've got to learn how to use fear correctly and not just hit them over the head with it and scare them so much they won't buy but use it to sell.
>> should we all be taking a look at our companies, no matter what we sell and say, okay, how can -- what fear are we answering? turn around. >> it gets to the message direct limit. i think that's a key question you want. he's exactly right. we're always selling in some way but delivering the message different. you can sell fear with humor. there's lots of ways to do that. whether about bad breath, about car safety, it's about everything. but in the essence, we're trying to do the anti-side. it gets back to fundamental things. theory of cognitive disnance. every politician practices is every day. they try to get you off the fence. they say something to move you off the fence. that's what advertising is doing, that's what selling is doing, is to be able to move that. fear is a great motivator and always has been. do you want to be associated with the ultimate fear? i think you want to be able to have a good understanding of what your brand is.
you look at larry winger, you know we are stands. when he has a book that says grow a pair, you know it's going to be direct. that message is very, very clear. >> you don't know larry very well. he's not direct at all. shrinking flower over there in the corner. larry, one other thing i took from the piece, this idea he listened to is customers. customers said i want something else and immediately he changed it. >> there are a lot of great business lessons and in the video we just saw he listened to his customers. we should all listen to our customers. he hired a customer to run the front desk because the front desk needed that kind of expertise. there's a lot to learn from that. >> larry and jeffrey, thank you for this advice or this discussion on this piece. you guys stick around. we've got more with you in a minute. imagine what it must be like to come up with a business concept, share it with other
people only to discover someone else ripped off your idea and then made a business out of it. it's like a dagger to your heart, right? well, one business owner says that is exactly what happened to her. ♪ >> cassie recommend am has a that riefg washington, d.c.-based shoe business. this is not the company she thought she was going to start. that business was launched by someone else. >> they took the lease and almost took the same name. it was one of these things where is this reality, did i really just about open the store and have someone take this idea from me? >> it all started in 2003 kwh cast i quit her job to open a specialized shoe store. >> what i was planning to do was offer something unique and offer this edited collection which a lot of people go to boutiques specifically for that.
>> even before the launch, she was sharing her concept with friends and family. >> i was very proud and excited, was telling lots of people. >> at a wedding, she told some folks about her idea and she says those people shared the news with others. soon after, her dream turned into a nightmare. while attending a trade show in las vegas, she quickly realized her business idea may have been lifted. >> i went to meet with one of the designers and i had already previously met with her. she said, i am so confused. somebody just came in, i thought they were with your company, they had similar name and obviously they're buying my collection and so i thought it was you. i said, well, that is strange. do you happen to have their card? >> she called the phone number and got quite a surprise. as she recounts the conversation, it went something like this. >> i said, well, my name is kassie and you won't believe this, i was about to open the same exact store in the same
location. really, almost the same name, too. wow. you just must be shocked. but it's not a coincidence. we actually heard about what you were doing and we thought it was a great idea so we decided to do it ourselves. and at that point, i was speechless. >> it's hard to imagine that someone would actually casually admit to stealing her idea. but whether they did or they didn't, she says because it was still just an idea, her hands were tied. >> there was nothing i could do. there was nothing tangible that i could go back and act upon. i'm not sure i would have anyhow. >> it took months for her to get over her disappointment. she was determined to stick to selling shoes and that's when devastation turned into inspiration. >> out that of really disparaging, heart-wrenching experience, my business was born. >> she reached out to other professionals for a crash course
in catalog sales. while some doubted her, she was determined to push ahead. >> at the time people were thinking, shoes and in a catalog, that's never going to work. >> of course, that was then. and this is simply soles now. staying true to her original mission, she owns a company that sells designer names and she's even added designs of her own. my brand is lily bee. i started it in the spring of 2008 and it's become our best selling collection. >> and while she admits she's now a bit tight-lipped about her ideas -- >> i'm a little bit more cautious. i think that would be a wise suggestion. >> she's found peace with her past. >> i am where i am. i'm very grateful to be here. so i really strongly believe that good or bad, every experience helps mold you and shape you for what's to come. >> small businesses have a higher fraud rate than larger companies. so how secure is your business?
here now are five ways to protect yourself from some common forms of fraud in cyber crime courtesy of the u.s. small business administration. one, separate your personal banking from your business accounts. that way fraudsters can't get their hands-on all your money. reporting deductions on your tax returns will also be easier. two, use a dedicated computer for banking. make sure it's one not used for any other online activity, like social media, web surfing. these tasks can make machines more susceptibles to vul neshlts. >> have a password policy. make sure you change them rgly. also, set rules that passwords are complex and use different passwords for different online and system accounts. four, do background checks on potential employees. the first step to prevent fraudulent employee behavior is to make the right hiring
decisions. five, secure your i.t. invest in a firewall as well as anti-virus, malware and spyware detection software. when we come back, jeffrey and larry will answer some of your small business questions about how to expand both your staff and your marketing reach. and it's that time of year to go back to school. i return once more to my alma mater to learn more about succeeding with a minimum viable product. has it's ups and downs. seasonal... doesn't begin to describe it. my cashflow can literally change with the weather. anything that gives me some breathing room makes a big difference. the plum card from american express gives your business flexibility. get 1.5% discount for paying early, or up to 60 days to pay without interest, or both each month.
i'm nelson gutierrez and i'm a member of the smarter money. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. time to answer some of your business questions. jeffrey and larry are back with us again. the first one is about effective ways to grow your employee base. >> what advice do you have for young companies as they're looking to grow their teams? what best practices on hiring would you have? >> larry, i'll start with you on this one. what advice do you have for him? >> go slow. especially when you're new and you don't have a lot of extra money. the most expensive thing you'll ever have a line item in your budget is people. you make darn sure you need to hire more people and you can afford to hire more people. first thing i would do is ask more from the people who already
work for you. as far as best hiring practices, ask the tough questions. ask them what books they've been reading lately. ask them what they know about you and your company and your industry. if they go listen, buddy, i'm just looking for a job, let them look someplace else. >> if they don't know anything about your company, it's not worth talking to them. >> i'd offer up ask friends. the best people i have found have been from my family and friends and the network of that group. i've always found the best people that way. i would ask them why wouldn't i hire you? it's amazing how many people actually answer that question in an interview. when i talk to that potential hire yee. >> they don't say because i work too hard. >> they say something stupid like i'm always late or things like that. it's amazing how i can check them off the list. i'm with larry. ask some really direct and hard questions. >> let's move on to the next question. here's a question about getting more exposure for you and your company. >> i would like to ask how the
companies that you've been involved with have successfully garnered media attention and utilized that to their best ability to either launch a product or bring their brand and image to a larger scale. >> this is your expertise, jeffrey. >> i love opm. other people's money. i'm going to get other people to talk about my product. the best way to do that is to deliver the product and service beyond anything you've done before. if you can do that, people will talk about your company, go out of their way to recommend you. that is the best way. do a great job at what you're doing. >> is it just a matter of delivering something great or do you also have to ask your customers, hey, write about us? >> there's nothing wrong with asking. in fact, you should be asking. i say in my last book, never stop selling your company. always keep selling it. i can tell you the number of times i've gone into someone's office, a friend of mine, i didn't know you did that. >> i failed to do that. i learned early on, sell, sell,
sell. >> jeffrey is exactly right. the worst thing you can do is say look at me, look at me. it's much better to have people look at him, look at him. you'll get more attention that way. the way do you that is to to be amazing at what you do. in today's times, you can't be good. you've got to be amazing. you have to have great products and amazing service and there's nothing wrong with asking people to talk about you. >> yeah. i really like -- i've had great experiences and it doesn't occur to me necessarily to post-it on facebook. >> if a company asks me, i say sure, i'll like you, i'll write something. >> it's the best kind of advertising you can get. let's move on to the next question from paul. he writes, we've been marketing to small groups of users, getting one-on-one feedback. when is the right time and what are strategies for broth broadening the marketing to larger -- >> we're talking about the same thing, right, larry? if you market to small groups of
people, hopefully they'll get the word out for you. >> yeah. but i would throw a word of caution in here. make sure you're able to handle those large groups. one of the worst things you can do as a small company is to do a really good job for the customer base that you have and say look we're ready to expand and you go out and it works and you start to get people's attention and then you're not capable of handling all that extra business and then you screw the whole thing up because everybody's level of service goes down. so be real careful when expanding to make sure you do have the resource toss deliver the service. >> what's interesting about the question, jeffrey, is he said getting feedback from a small group of people. >> i don't understand the difference between feedback from smalls and large. when it comes to feedback, i'm with larry in terms of how you sell and the way you're able to serve those. when it comes to feedback, add a zero. there's nothing wrong with getting more feedback and you start to find new ways to sell to different people that you didn't know before. when we first get started, we start off with that small group and they're usually a lot like
us. >> right. >> we want to expand beyond those that are like us. again, this is a great example of social media, social media is a great way to be able to do this in very easy ways and there's lots of survey tools that you can use that are free and some you have to pay for. you should be adding more zeros here. >> also about getting feedback. i think, this gets to your point, larry about being ready to handle. on feedback, too. if you get feedback, you have to be prepared to be able to react to it, right? >> yes. especially negative feedback. for a guy who sells all that fear, i get a lot of negative feedback. you have to be able to handle that criticism and learn from every critique that you get. >> larry and jeffrey, i love talking to you guys. i hope you're back soon. if anyone has questions for our experts, go to our website, open forum.com/your business. once you get there, hit the ask the show link to submit a question for our panel. again, that website is open
forum.com/your business or e-mail your questions and comments too. that address is your email@example.com. are you constantly forgetting all of the passwords for different websites? check out our app of the week. robo form is a free password manager and form filler that allows one click log-ins in a safe and easy way. sync the app with your desktop account to update new log-this is from your mobile device or desktop. information stored is stored by an extra security pin. if your phone falls in the wrong hands, your information is still safe. one of the most interesting concepts in business today is the idea of a minimum viable product. a few months ago, i went to my business school reunion at stanford and sat down with a handful of professors to talk to them about what they see as key factors to business success today. well, we have the last piece in the series for you. i chatted with russell siegel man, a lecturer in management
who spent seven years at microsoft and 11 years at cliner perkins. i asked him to define mvp as it relates to companies. >> it's the idea that you create a very simple prototype. what i call a low resolution prototype. very simple. that allows you to put the product in front much your customers and see if necessity respond to the few pieces of function, the few use cases they want you to respond to. just try to address the core of the problem and don't -- lots of bells and whistles. that could be a lot of waste. you could spend a lot of -- >> this isn't about starting up. it's about when you're launching a new product as an existing company or service. >> in fact, some big companies, one company here, big multibillion dollar company. this is how they launch new products. >> you strip a product or service of bells and whistles and get it out there to a few customers and see what they think? >> yeah. it's all about experimentation. see if customers have some
interest in doing what you're doing even at a very early stage. the earlier the better. in a sense, you want to find out whether you're solving the problem before you invest time and energy. >> it's hard, though. when you have an idea for a product or service, you can see the big picture, the perfect picture. how do you strip it down and still test it, still get them something that's viable as a consumer to experience? >> yeah. it's a treick. a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with this. they see this grand vision, wonderful product. why would i show a limited function that's not sort of the final fit and finish that i expect? put it in front of a customer. of course, they're not going to like it. there's some truth to that. the truth is, if you find early adopters who care about the need, necessity should respond. if you don't get that spark, you probably are headed off in the wrong direction. we do advise really start really
low resolution prototype. simple things. see if you can get customers to respond to that. >> you give them surveys, ask questions, how do you know what to do? >> that's the trick of the mvp. customers stated intentions and what they do are often quite driven. you can do market research, you can ask them for surveys, you can ask them what they think, but at the end of the day, it's better to see them do something. that's the whole idea behind mvp. i might tell you i want something, i might tell you i'll use your product, but forcing me to try to use and see if i do. >> you launch your mvp, your minimum viable product, how do you get feedback to move from there? >> there's nothing really special about that. what you need to do is enlist early adopters. those are the people that are really motivated to use your product. you give it to them, they use it, you follow-up with them. hey, how often did you use it? particularly internet products, you can watch how often they use it. that's kind of a good sign.
>> the key to all of this then is having an open mind because you have, again, this idea of a product and once you get feedback, the end result that you should be getting may be entirely different. >> that is so true. we tell entrepreneurs get locked in on the problem, not the soluti solution. because the solution should come from the customer. you want to direct the vision in a general direction, but you don't want to get too focused at the beginning on the solution. you don't really know what's going to solve the customer's problem. >> it's fascinating. we talk about listening to the customer and this is the way to act on it too. thanks so much, russ. >> my pleasure. thanks so much for joining us today. to learn more about today's show, click on our website. it is open forum.com/your business. once you get there, you'll find all of today's segments. plus web exclusive content with more information to help your business grow and you can follow us on twitter as well. it's @msnbc your biz.
next week, when you first start your business, every cent counts. quite often, the cheapest place to take up headquarters is right at home. >> i was really just a function of necessity. we needed a place to work and the home was the best option for that. >> see how these two entrepreneurs are getting clients to see their startup as reputable despite the fact that their kitchen doubles up as their conference room. until then, i'm j.j. ramberg. remember, we make your business our business. building animatronics is all about getting things to work together. the timing, the actions, the reactions. everything has to synch up. my expenses are no different. receipt match from american express synchronizour business expenses.